I’ve been in Houston at the 2011 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). Many process people told me this was the place to go (even when there was an ISA Expo), and they were right. It’s huge. Fills up Houston. I must have walked miles.

Attendance this year reached a 29-year high of 78,150, up 8 percent from last year, as offshore energy industry experts from around the world came together at the world’s largest event for offshore resources development. OTC was held 2-5 May at Reliant Park in Houston.

Attendance surpassed the 2010 total of 72,025, and the sold-out exhibition was the largest since 1982 at 603,000 square feet, up from 568,000 square feet in 2010. New this year was the OTC Parkway spanning from Reliant Center to Reliant Arena, which increased the outdoor exhibition space. The event had 2,520 companies from 40 countries, including 306 new exhibitors in 2011, and added exhibitors from Egypt, Hong Kong, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Company news

Endress+Hauser

Endress+Hauser showed the Promass 83X/84X. With its 14-inch diameter and accuracy up to 0.05 percent, the Promass 83X/84X four-tube Coriolis mass flowmeter is ideal for pipeline custody transfer and other high flow rate applications requiring reliability and low maintenance.

FCI

Fluid Components International (FCI) showed its ST100 Series Thermal Mass Flow Meter that according to the booth spokesperson “sets a new industry benchmark in process and plant gas flow measurement instrumentation.” It is said to be the industry’s first thermal mass gas flow meter designed with a migration path. A field-replaceable plug-in card can change from among conventional 4-20 mA analog, frequency/pulse, alarm relays or digital bus communications such as HART, Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus or Modbus. The ST100 measures gas mass flow rate, total flow, temperature and pressure depending on the model family. It stores up to five unique calibration groups to accommodate broad flow ranges, differing mixtures of the same gas and multiple gases, and obtains up to 1000:1 turndown.

Wago

WAGO Corporation’s 750-882 “ETHERNET 2.0” Media Redundancy Controller provides two redundant networks via independent Ethernet interfaces. This enables communication with a redundant network — ideal for applications requiring high network and system availability (e.g., shipbuilding) — or two independent networks. It provides high-speed processing — 1000 instructions < 235µS and accommodates HTTP, BootP, DHCP, DNS and FTP. 750-882 employs an industry-proven TCP/IP-stack, multitasking IEC61131 runtime system and MODBUS/TCP with rapid response.

Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation spokespeople talked about its penetration into the oil & gas market, especially with its Aadvance safety and critical control system which has been linked via EtherNet/IP with PlantPAx process controller for some amount of integrated safety and control. On the asset performance management side, its Unified Production Model enables people to build personalized, Web-based visualization of manufacturing information.

National Instruments

National Instruments exhibited the NI PXIe-4844 optical sensor interrogator, a two-slot 3U PXI Express module for fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. FBG sensors operate by reflecting a wavelength of light that corresponds to changes in physical phenomena such as strain and temperature. FBG sensors are nonconductive, electrically passive and immune to electromagnetic interference, making them a safe and reliable alternative in environments subject to noise, corrosion or extreme weather. The transmission medium is standard optical fiber instead of copper wire, making it possible to take measurements over long distances of up to 10 km. Engineers and scientists can use FBG sensors for the most common measurement types, including strain, temperature and pressure, and several sensors can be daisy chained along a single optical fiber to greatly reduce the size, weight and complexity of the measurement system.

Lincoln Electric

Lincoln Electric exhibited the PowerWave system that captures weld information digitally. It can provide weld quality data for customers of the welding fabricator. It can also grade a weld relative to a “taught” good weld.

GE Intelligent Platforms

Its “Intelligent Asset Management” part of the Proficy platform provides data visibility “all the way down and all the way up.” Since we were at OTC, the example was from the subsea area to the ships operations. It also allows transfer of actionable KPIs into workflows. The analysis gets into “failure prevention” through technology from recently acquired SmartSignal.

Eaton

The highlight for me at the Eaton booth was a medium voltage drive that the company is working towards significant enhancements. Spokesperson noted that Eaton is putting intelligence into switchgear to work with the “smart grid.”

Emerson Process Management

Emerson Process Management announced the Daniel 3812 Liquid Ultrasonic Flow Meter. The meter is designed to be less sensitive to changes in the flow profile, solids or entrained air, which results in accurate, stable and reliable measurement. This meter can be used to measure liquid products with a high accuracy of ±0.3 percent and repeatability of ± 0.1 percent due to sophisticated algorithms and the configuration of its measuring ultrasonic paths.

Emerson also launched the Roxar Downhole Wireless PT Sensor System – Annulus B. The new instrument will measure online and in real-time previously inaccessible pressure and temperature information behind the casing in subsea production wells, providing operators with an important new tool for well integrity monitoring.

The annulus of an oil well is the space between two concentric objects, such as between the wellbore and casing or between casing and tubing, where fluid can flow. In a completed well, there are normally at least two annuli. The A annulus is the space between the production tubing and the smallest casing string with the B annulus located between different casing strings.

Cement seals behind the wellbore casing provide a barrier against the high pressures encountered deeper in the well. Poor or deteriorating cement sealing or casing collapse (the casing will heat up and thermally expand due to the production flow), however, can lead to a loss in casing integrity, allowing oil or gas to migrate vertically towards the surface along the outside of the casing. This can result in potentially hazardous situations, especially during workover operations, where uncontrolled gas may escape at the surface. In the worst case scenarios, a shallow gas blow out might evolve due to the failed barriers in the casing systems.

With online pressure monitoring, the Roxar Downhole Wireless PT Sensor System – Annulus B can provide positive confirmation of the pressure barrier’s integrity. The tool will also negate the sometimes excessive and expensive over dimensioning of casings that can take place to compensate for worst case scenarios and will also potentially provide operators with significant cost savings previously incurred in shutting in wells, due to their lack of ability to verify barrier integrity. The new wireless PT Sensor System and its permanent monitoring capabilities will give added certainty to the well integrity monitoring process as well as valuable input during well trouble-shooting.

Pepperl+Fuchs

Pepperl+Fuchs introduced VisuNet Industrial KM915 and KM919 Operator Workstations built to withstand the harshest oilfield operating conditions. The 15 in. or 19 in. monitors encased in a thin but rugged NEMA 4/4x Stainless or painted steel SlimLine housing suitable class I, Division 2 hazardous area installation. One of three internal KVM Extenders enable plant operators to safely operate workstations up to 400 m (1300 ft.) from the server. They are well suited for use in any number of oil & gas well drilling applications.
• Rugged construction makes it highly resilient to shock and vibration
• Angled surfaces to aid in the prevention of standing liquids
• Enclosure design mitigates heat without the need for venting or cooling fans
• Glove friendly touchscreen

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